Why Globe ended free Facebook mobile service

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 08 2014 06:30 PM | Updated as of May 10 2014 12:19 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Globe Telecom ended its free Facebook mobile service last April 25.

Despite a clamor from its subscribers, the telecommunications company has no plans to extend it once more.

In an interview on ANC's Inside Business with Coco Alcuaz, Globe chief operating advisor Peter Bithos said the promo only stood to last for six months.

"What we found when we did our research was there were millions of Filipinos who had 3G phones, smartphones, and never used mobile data. They had turned it off. They only wanted to use it on Wi-fi because they didn't feel the need. They thought it might be slow, they thought it might be expensive," Bithos said.

Bithos said Globe never intended the free Facebook mobile service to be a permanent offer.

"What we wanted to do was stimulate millions of Filipinos and introduce them to the Internet through Facebook and that was enormously successful," he said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had earlier cited Globe as one of its partners in cutting Internet prices worldwide.

Now, Globe is looking for ways to get subscribers pay for their access to the popular social networking site, and for mobile data.

"We're very happy we could provide free Facebook. We extended a couple of times... Now we're entering the next phase, how do we get them to pay for it and use other services as well," Bithos said.

Globe has recently teamed up with digital music service Spotify. As its telco partner in the Philippines, Globe offers free access to Spotify through its new data plan GoSurf.

"Spotify gives you access to all the music on the Internet, all on your phone, laptop or iPad... Our partnership with Spotify is a great example, buy a mobile data pack, get free Spotify. We bundle amazingly compelling content, all the music you want, together with mobile data. We introduce people to the Internet and to an amazing service like Spotify," Bithos said.

Aside from mobile data and other telco services, Globe continues to give support to local start-ups through Kickstart. It's a venture capital that helps Filipinos create apps.

Bithos believes Filipino developers may soon create a breakthrough service or app that can compete with other big firms and promising start-ups abroad.

"I think it's just a matter of time. I believe we will, here in the Philippines. We see so much young creative talent not only within Globe but coming up through education system out there in Manila, Cebu, Davao or other provinces wanting to develop new services. What they lack is an ecosystem of funding, mentorship, putting together right teams to take great idea and make it reality," he said. - With ANC